Football is leading the way in driving disability sports participation, according to the latest data from Sport England’s Active People Survey.
Figures released this week reveal that 17,500 more disabled people are playing sport at least once a week – almost half of which are turning to football.
Sport England recorded an additional 8,500 people with disabilities taking part in football regularly in the past year, bringing the total to 108,800 (according to FA figures).
In real terms this means that if disability football were a stand-alone sport, the volume of participation would make it the seventh largest team game in the country.
The growth in participation is driven by initiatives such as those run by The FA’s Disability Football Development Fund which invests in over 25 projects created to boost playing opportunities and encourage the growth of disability teams within Charter Standard clubs.
Jeff Davis, The FA’s National Elite Development Manager for Disability said: "We as The FA are delighted to have retained and increased those disabled people playing the game and look forward to 2016 where we hope to continue this success and grow the game."
Across football as a whole, participation levels remain stable based on Sport England measurements.
In the 12 months to October this year, among over 16s, the average weekly participation was 1,815,000 with 53% playing small-sided football, 31% 11-a-side, and the remainder playing recreational ‘kick about’ football. Organised football accounts for around a third of monthly participation.